We #StandWithUkraine, find out how to help here.
Last updated: 05.12.18

How to avoid Food Shopping waste.

With food prices on the rise in the UK, shoppers are becoming ever more careful with their household budgets and supermarket trips. It’s so easy to end up overspending with just a few impulse buys, or wasting money by throwing food away.

Food wastage is one of the biggest problems facing the food retail industry, as well as one of the biggest culprits for overspending in UK households. However, with some simple tips and a bit of planning, food wastage can be minimised and money could be saved on the cost of a weekly shop. 

Write a shopping list

Without a plan and a shopping list when you enter the supermarket, you can easily end up driven by wants rather than needs, which can lead to impulse buying and falling prey to the influence of offers and in-store marketing. Plan your meals in advance as much as possible and use this to create your shopping list – and then stick to it.

Loose vs pre-packed

Buying packaged fruit and vegetables can feel quick and convenient, but you can often end up paying more for the same number of loose products. Always check the price per weight or item of loose vs pre-packaged fruit and vegetables, especially if there’s an offer on.

Buying pre-packed can also mean you end up with more than you need, so fruit goes bad before you get a chance to eat it. Only buy what you need and can make use of. 

Avoid offers

While supermarkets are always full of great deals and multiple-buy offers, buying more than you need can often lead to wastage. Fresh food offers are the biggest culprit, with the highest likelihood of wastage if you end up with more than you need.

It’s especially tempting if something on your shopping list is on a multiple-buy offer, but consider if you’ll be able to use it before it goes off. Long-life products can be a useful buy, or if you’re able to make twice as much of a meal and freeze or eat another day. 

Freezing food

Freezing is a great way to minimise food wastage, especially for fresh items such as dairy, meat, and fish. Some things aren’t suitable such as fruits or vegetables with a high water content like cucumber, or cooked rice and pasta.

If you’ve bought a large block of cheese you could grate it into individual portions and freeze them, and you can use ice cube trays for storing milk, stock, and even wine. Freezing can also make offers on fresh meat and fish more useful, as you can buy in bulk and freeze what you don’t immediately need in individual portions. Just make sure to clearly label and date everything.


No matter how well you plan, you can still end up with leftovers. Far from a problem, leftovers can be very useful for a number of things, such as a packed lunch for the following day, or as ingredients for other meals.

Try to see the opportunity in whatever you have leftover, whether it’s a finished dish or just extra ingredients. Vegetables can be combined to make soup, or cooked pasta can go into salads or other dishes.

Best before vs use-by

Best before and use-by dates provide different information and confusing them can end up in unnecessary waste. Use-by dates are about food safety and are found on products like meat and ready-made sandwiches. Food shouldn’t be eaten after the use-by date, even if it looks and smells fine.

Best before dates provide information on quality rather than safety, so food will be safe to eat after this date but possibly not at its best. Checking by sight and smell is still good advice, especially with items like milk, yoghurt, and bread.

Take a look at our other recent blog posts on the food and drink industry for more insights.

Related resources